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Scarlet Letter 2 Essay, Research Paper

What each generation or society views as good and bad seems to change with the times. Even the way people carry out their daily tasks is different from the past. That’s what the advancement of mankind is all about. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne shows a perfect example of how the past can never really be the same as the present. Because the times have changed, The Scarlet Letter is not relevant to today’s teenage parents. One way the times have changed is that teenage parents are not alone like Hester was. Today, there are support groups for teenagers dealing with parenthood. It lets them know that they’re not alone, and that they’re not the only people in the world with that problem. It was almost the complete opposite with Hester’s situation. Hester was totally isolated from the rest of society because she sinned by having Pearl. When she got out of prison, she then had to deal with the hardest part of her life, living with her guilt and shame. “For the accumulating days, and added years, would pile up their misery upon the heap of shame” [sl05.html]. Hester was also one of the only women who had a child with another man who wasn’t her husband. So, on top of having to raise a child on her own with no support, she also had to deal with feeling like a total outcast from society. Today, teenage parents may get criticized by their peers and some adults, but they’re not treated like outcasts by the rest of society. Another reason why The Scarlet Letter isn’t relevant to today’s teenage parents is because there isn’t really a punishment for having a child, other than a lifetime commitment. In the story, Hester had to endure the scaffold and wear the letter A for adultery for the rest of her life. This is stated by a townsman when asked by Chillingworth. Hester’s punishment would be “then and thereafter, for the remainder of her natural life, to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom” [sl03.html#g02]. Hester’s sin was considered so horrible that she was going to be punished for it forever. “And over her grave, the infamy that she must carry thither would be her only monument” [sl05.html]. Hester couldn’t even get away from her sin by death. Today, the legal system doesn’t get involved in a teenager having a child because there aren’t really any laws against it. In Puritan times, it was okay for officials to get involved.

The third reason why The Scarlet Letter isn’t relevant to today’s teenage parents is because there isn’t that same amount of uptightness about intimacy like there was during Puritan times. After Hester was charged with adultery, she was considered immoral and dirty. This was shown when the townswomen talked about Hester and what she had done. “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die” [sl02.html#g07]. What Hester did was considered one of the worst things a woman could do. Today, a person who has a child while still a teenager is bad to many people but not compared to other problems they could face. Intimacy isn’t looked at as a problem as much, because it’s all around us. We see it in television, music, entertainment, and on the streets. It’s much more a public part of our lives. Due to the fact that the times have changed so much since Puritan times, The Scarlet Letter can’t be relevant to today’s teenage parents. What we see today as accepted and normal might be shocking to future people. Someday, our society may be looked upon like the Puritan society is looked at by us. Morals and beliefs change over time.

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